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Even the best teaching pro can’t feed you the same ball every time. To become consistent with every stroke, a tennis ball machine might be the answer!

The repetition a tennis ball machine can provide is invaluable to getting a stroke into your ‘muscle memory’. 

In this article we will look at a specific tennis ball machine called The Silent Partner. 

If you’re looking for Silent Partner Tennis Ball Machine reviews, this article may help you to find out when this particular tennis ball machine should be used and when it might not be the best option. 

Here’s a closer look at the Silent Partner tennis ball machine in action:

A tennis ball machine is an investment

There are a number of reasons to invest in a tennis ball machine. Any time we play better, we have more fun. If we are out with friends for a friendly game of singles or doubles, we want to play well!

Also, if you are a recreational player who loves tournament play or who plays in a league, practicing on a tennis ball machine will help you win more of your matches.

In the following content, we will look at tennis ball machines in general as well as features specific to the Silent Partner.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons to invest in a tennis ball machine. 

  • A tennis ball machine may be less expensive than a professional coach. In the long run, you may spend less on a ball machine than taking lessons from a pro, especially if you opt for private lessons. 
  • Schedule. The ball machine works with your schedule. You can also play as long as you want because you don’t have to worry about running out of lesson time.
  • Practice at your own pace. If you practice with a hitting partner, they may lose patience with you correcting a particular stroke over and over. Hitting with a ball machine gives you the freedom to practice at your own pace. 
  • Fitness workout and improved footwork. A great tennis ball machine like the Silent Partner can be programmed to give you a great workout on the court. Footwork is an extremely important skill in tennis that can only be practiced with repetition. 

Let’s look at a few reasons not to invest in a tennis ball machine.

  • A ball machine may be out of your budget. Demos and used machines are a way to buy quality machines at a discounted price. These, of course, are ‘buyer beware’. On a case-by-case basis Silent Partner provides special discounts to up-and-coming young talent as a sponsorship.
  • You will need to replace the battery after 2-5 years.

If you’re considering purchasing and using a tennis ball machine, you may have a number of questions as you approach your decision. The following questions are common.

  • How are balls thrown by tennis ball machines? Tennis ball machines use wheels to throw the ball. There are two wheels that turn in opposite directions. You will notice the label will say “counter rotating wheels”. The wheels have a small space between them. The ball rolls down a chute and is squeezed by the counter rotating wheels which then eject it. It is similar to gravel being thrown from under a spinning tire, though in the case of the tire only one wheel is responsible for the throwing. 
  • How do the tennis ball machines that use air pressure work? Machines that look like a cannon work by air pressure. Pressure is usually supplied to a drum by a vacuum cleaner motor. A ball is lodged at the throat of the tube and is retained by a collar that is slightly smaller in diameter than the ball. When pressure builds sufficiently to push the ball through the collar, the ball is ejected. These machines are called pneumatic. 
  • How do the ‘hammer’ style tennis ball machines throw balls? Some machines use a ‘hammer’ to strike the ball, using various spring loaded designs. The performance of these machines is extremely limited.
  • Are counter rotating wheels or pneumatic pressure better in a ball machine? Any machine costing less than $700 works on the pneumatic principle. All better machines use counter rotating wheels.

The reasons are as follows:

  1. Pneumatic machines are noisy and do not provide the level of performance achieved by the better wheel driven machines.
  2. Pneumatic machines require a lot of electrical current and cannot therefore be adapted to battery power. 
  3. The only advantage to pneumatic machines used to be low cost, but they are rarely used today.
  • What is an oscillator? An oscillator is a mechanism that allows the machine to throw balls in different locations on the court. The most common type of oscillator is the random oscillator, and is a feature of the Silent Partner Ball Machine. This feature causes the machine to sweep the court from side to side repeatedly. Balls are thrown in different and somewhat unexpected locations to simulate play with an opponent. 

Some common questions posed about the Silent Partner ball machine include:

  • How does the Silent Partner Tennis ball machine put spin on the ball? Wheel driven machines put spin on the ball by varying the relative speed of the upper and lower wheel. When the upper wheel turns faster than the lower wheel, the ball is ejected with topspin. When the lower wheel spins faster than the upper wheel the ball is ejected with back spin. Of course, when both wheels turn at the same time at the same speed, the ball throws a flat ball. Pneumatic machines use friction in the cannon tube or just outside the tube to impart spin. When the bottom of an ejected ball is rubbed, as it exits the machine, the ball acquires topspin and vice versa. Not all machines have spin capabilities. If the wheels on the machine are arranged in a horizontal plane rather than a vertical plane, spin cannot exist. The only spin that could be achieved would be side spin, and side spin is not important in tennis. 
  • What kind of batteries are used in the Silent Partner Ball Machine? The batteries are known as ‘sealed lead-acid’ batteries. Batteries are rated by the number of AMP/hour reserve charge they carry. All Silent Partner ball machines except the LITE use a 21 Amp/hour battery. The LITE has a 9 Amp/hour battery. Unlike certain types of batteries that have a ‘memory’ and that need to be discharged completely before being recharged, lead acid batteries do not have a memory and can be recharged from any state of discharge.

Silent Partner Tennis Ball Review: Right for you?

Features and benefits of the Silent Partner tennis ball machine include, according to the manufacturer:

  •  Adaptive all-court oscillation: The Silent Partner provides vertical oscillation as well as horizontal oscillation. Vertical Oscillation is achieved by varying the angle of elevation. The higher the ball is thrown, the deeper in the court it lands. The Silent partner achieves vertical oscillation with a mechanical cam that varies the angle of elevation within a fixed range. It computes an appropriate vertical range to suit the speed and spin selected by the user. The benefits of this adaptive approach are particularly dramatic at high speed and topspin, where the all court feature provides a pro-level challenge.
  • Select-A-Drill: Select-a-drill is the name given by Silent Partner to the ability of the machine to memorize and replay sequences of shot locations. The user can enter a sequence of shots and then practice the drill over and over. Because the user also selects the speed, spin, and feed interval for the drill, a near infinite number of programs can be created to challenge all levels of players.
  • Match-play presets: Play simulation involves programs that simulate play with an opponent. The computer of the machine will provide preset speed, spin, and ball interval and will simulate actual match rallies with breaks between points. The user can override the preset speed, spin, and ball interval rates to suit their own level of ability. 
  • AC-Powered: Silent Partner has machines that do not contain batteries and can only be used when an electrical outlet is available. Owners of private courts and clubs often prefer AC-powered machines because they can be used indefinitely without worrying about batteries running out.
  • AC-DC machine with convenient hand carried adapter separate from the machine. The machine can run on its internal batteries or on the AC adapter. The AC-DC option is desirable in cases where the availability of an AC outlet is not certain. Silent Partner machines that are equipped with the AC-DC option are just as portable as battery-operated models.

Talk with an industry professional before using any new product for your game to ensure its safety and appropriateness for your needs.

Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com @ miflippo